How Can I Enforce A Support Order Against an Unemployed Spouse?

Legal scales on top of a family law book.

If you are entitled to receive any form of financial support from a former partner through a court order, these funds are enforceable through legal action. However, some recipients of a support obligation run into an issue when the obligated party is unemployed. If you are entitled to receive support payments and your former partner has become unemployed, discuss your options of enforcement with an experienced Pensacola Family Law Attorney.

When your former partner falls behind on support payments, the first step you should take is to determine the reason behind their default. Some neglect these court ordered payments willfully, while others have suffered a medical disability, or become involuntarily unemployed. If the obligated party has become unemployed, it becomes a concern of the recipient of where they can attach their claim of support. There are a few options you have when attempting to enforce a support claim against an unemployed spouse. However, these options can be different depending on the voluntary or involuntary nature of the unemployment.

If the obligated party willingly left their job, or acted in a manner that subjected him to removal, this would be considered voluntary unemployment. If a spouse is voluntarily unemployed and refuses to make the court ordered payments, you will need to file a Motion of Enforcement/Contempt. Within the motion, you will provide the court with the valid support order, the willful disregard of payments, and allege the involuntary nature of the unemployment. If the court finds the obligor to be voluntarily unemployed, they can impute income to the individual, withhold on tax returns, lottery winnings, suspend driver’s license, attach levies on property such as land, vehicles, art, jewelry, or bank accounts, or the court can order the property to be sold with the proceeds awarded to the recipient of the support payments. Finally, the court may also hold the obligated party in contempt of court ordering them to pay additional penalties or jail time.

However, if your former partner is involuntarily unemployed you may wish to come to an agreement outside of court. You can come to an agreement with your former partner regarding the payments, determine a timeline, the amount to be paid in the interim of unemployment, and what the payments will consist of after a job has been obtained. However, it is important that this document be drafted in conformity with legal procedures, therefore it is imperative to contact a family law attorney to assist you in this process. If you cannot reach an agreement you may still seek court action through a Motion of Enforcement/Contempt, however; it is likely if the obligated party is involuntarily unemployed the status of the support payments may change to reflect the new financial circumstances of the parties.

When an obligated party becomes unemployed and fails to make their court ordered payments the recipient of this financial support may become concerned and confused as to their methods of enforcement against the unemployed party. However, consult with an experienced lawyer to discus your specific options and walk you through the process of enforcement.

Speaking to an attorney at our Pensacola office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call us at (800) 822-5170 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.

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